Struggle to Walk the Walk?

Walking the Walk Devotionals
(Click on image for devotionals about Walking the Walk.)

 

Previously we compared the Christian life to a walk — a process involving steady movement forward.

But, for some, the Christian walk seems to be more like one step forward and two steps back — a real struggle. Others seem to keep losing their balance and often fall — a life filled with ups and downs.

Why is walking the walk a struggle?

Continuing to liken the Christian walk to physical walking, we can find a few reasons walking the walk might be a struggle.

Maturity: You are either a new Christian or haven’t sufficiently matured.

Newborns haven’t developed the muscle strength to hold themselves up. Even with assistance, they just don’t have the ability to walk. As children grow and get stronger, they need to learn to walk. At first they must really focus or concentrate on each step, overcoming fears and insecurities. They fall but get up and try again until eventually they don’t have to concentrate near so much and they become steadier and steadier as they walk.

The Need for Walking Spiritually: Grow and keep growing through the study of God’s Word so you develop spiritual muscles (Heb. 5:14; Phil. 3:12-14).

Blockage or Disease Affecting the Brain: Sin is blocking fellowship or communication with the Head, affecting your ability to walk. (Isa. 59:1-2)

Since the brain controls our movement, anything preventing proper communication between the brain and our legs will affect our ability to walk.

The Need for Christian Walk: Apply God’s RX: Repent, confess your sin (1 Jn. 1:5-7) and then grab hold of God’s grace and power to rid yourself of sin (Rom. 6:11-18; Titus 2:11-12).

Heart Problems: An divided heart can cause problems. (Ps. 86:11; 1 Kings 8:58)

Physically, a bad heart can cause us to get out of breath as we walk. Such difficulties can make walking difficult. Yet, walking can actually strengthen the heart and as it does, it becomes less of a struggle, if we persevere.

The Need for Walking the Walk as Christians: Pay attention to the condition of your heart above external conformity. Ask God to teach you and turn your heart wholeheartedly toward Him (1 Kings 8:58; Ps. 86:11). Above all, guard your heart (Prov. 4:23).

It’s a Walk

Walking the Walk Devotionals
(Click on image for devotionals about Walking the Walk.)

 

Scripture describes the relationship people have with God as a walk:

  • From the beginning, Genesis mentions specific people as having walked with God. (Gen. 5:22; 6:9; 48:15)
  • Jesus invites us to follow Him, to walk in His footsteps. (1 Pet. 2:21)
  • We are commanded to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16)
  • We are implored to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called” (Eph. 4:1, NASB).

What makes the Christian Life a Walk?

When we stop to think about what’s required in order to physically walk, we can draw some parallels to the Christian life.

1) It’s a process.

Walking requires that we put one foot in front of the other.  Likewise, spiritual growth is a process, not an instantaneous event.

2) It’s a process requiring balance.

When babies begin learning to walk, they struggle with the balance needed to stay upright. They often fall and need to get up and try again.  Similarly, spiritual infants find balance as they take those steps toward Christ who will keep picking them up as they learn to walk in Him.

3) It’s a process that requires movement in addition to maintaining balance.

While we can walk in place, most walking involves moving forward, making steady progress, as we go from one destination to another. Spiritual maturity only happens as we keep growing. To stand still is to become lethargic and sluggish in the Christian life.

4) It’s a process requiring faith to maintain balance while we move.

When we walk we lift one foot off the ground, keeping our balance on the other foot, trusting that the other foot will hold us upright. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God but also to truly walk the walk (Heb. 11).

5) It’s a process requiring communication from the head, our brain.

Our brains control how our bodies function, relaying messages to our legs through our central nervous system. A blockage of some sort can affect the way we walk. Unless we, as believers, yield to the Head, Jesus Christ, our Christian walk will never be what it should, or could, be.

For some, the process of walking in a manner worthy of our Lord, is a struggle. We’ll look at that in the next post.

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Because God is . . .

What determines your character and behavior?

We can be a certain way and do certain things for pragmatic reasons … to get what we want in life, to advance, or achieve. We can be a certain way and do certain things for people-pleasing reasons … to gain people’s approval and acceptance.

These reasons cause us to react and respond relative to our circumstances. We might find ourselves justifying the means to get to the end. Who we are in public may differ from who we are at home or in private.

Start with “Because God is …”

When, however, we start with “Because God is …. I will ….”, we maintain a consistency and integrity throughout the whole of our lives. We don’t do something just because it works but because it’s right. We’re more concerned about what God thinks than what people think.

God Is ... His Character

When we use God as our standard for who we are and what we do, we live in accordance with Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Examples of “Because God is …”

The commands of Scripture are rooted in the character of God. Hence,

  • Because God is faithful, I will fulfill commitments.
  • Because God is good, I will be kind and share with others.
  • Because God is holy, I will do what is right even when it’s not convenient or comfortable.
  • Because God is just, I will be fair in my dealings with others.
  • Because God is love, I will refrain from self-centered living.
  • Because God is One, I will seek unity with others.
  • Because God is pure, I will be faithful in my relationships.
  • Because God is true (truth), I will be honest with God, myself, and others.
  • Because God is wise, I will be discerning rather than reactive.

A prayer for all of us:

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Eph. 1:17)

Culture Shift Following the Right Course of Action

Culture Shift to Follow God's Design Needs a Course of Action

To make serving, with everybody doing their part, engrained in who we are as a Church, takes a culture shift. We get there by building an awareness of God’s design for the growth and health of the Body as seen in His commands about serving. We accept the challenge of equipping people to do their parts, understanding that it takes time and patience to get there. With the groundwork laid, we then need to put a course of action in place that will facilitate everybody doing their parts.

The Right Course of Action Could Depend on Your Setting

How easy it is to look at what other churches are doing and follow suit. A cookie cutter approach fails to take important factors into consideration.

1) Where you are

The readiness of people makes such a difference in any kind of change. You need to know where people are in order to take them to the next step. If you try to go from A to Z all at once, your efforts are bound to fail. As seen in Proverbs 27:23, you need to “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.”

2) What you already have in place

Sometimes you can build on what you’re already doing. Sometimes you must initiate a new strategy. The specific action steps may vary depending on where you’re beginning and what’s already in place.

Key Factors That Need to Be a Part of Any Course of Action to Promote a Culture Shift

We need to make it an ongoing emphasis and effort, more than a shot in the arm. — People need constant reminders, through various means, that God designed the Church to function in a certain way that brings health and growth to the Body. We can so easily get distracted. We can so quickly forget.

We need to provide tools or a pathway for getting there to sustain this directive in order to make it part of the church’s culture. This could include, but not be limited to:

  • ongoing teaching on God’s design for everybody doing their part — It can be part of Sunday School teaching, small groups, new members classes, sermons, provision of reading materials, talking about it verbally and in writing on any variety of platforms.

Resource: Everybody Has a Part Curriculum

  • help identifying spiritual gifts so people discover their best fit in ministry — Seeing how God has divinely empowered us for serving produces confidence.

Resource: Everybody Has a Part Spiritual Gifts Tests Resource

  • recruiting based on spiritual gifting — How we recruit is important in demonstrating the value we place on serving.

Article: How God Accomplishes His Work

  • highlighting how people can serve through ministry fairs, pamphlets, or some other means — Knowing what ministries are available, connecting people responsible for overseeing the ministries, and learning how they can plug in to the different ministries, brings it to them rather than waiting on people to come to you.

Articles:

 

Culture Shift is a Challenge

We lay a good foundation for changing people’s attitudes, thinking, and actions toward serving by helping them understand why it’s so important. We help them understand that ultimately they’re accountable to the Lord in following His design, not us. We would hope that would be sufficient to motivate people to do their part. Yet, in many cases making it part of your church’s culture still alludes you.

Why it’s such a Challenge to Shift the Way People Feel About Serving

  • We’re dealing with people’s previous perceptions. We must model a new way of being the church for them.
  • We’re dealing with people’s priorities. We must bear with them as they rearrange what they’ve viewed as more important to align with God’s.
  • We’re dealing with people’s hearts. We must be patient as God does a work in them to move them from self-centeredness to selflessness.

Accept the Challenge that Comes with making a Culture Shift

Culture Shift to Follow God's Design is a Challenge

We need to accept the challenge to equip or disciple people, to function purposefully, even when it seems inconvenience or uncomfortable. — So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up … (Eph. 4:11-14) To “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24) requires knowing and following the right course of action to get people there … the topic of the next post.

We need to accept the challenge to keep the focus on Christ, who is the Head, not on ourselves. It’s about submitting to Him and His ways, not our own agendas. It’s about depending on Him to sustain us, not our own strength. — Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:15-16)

We need to accept the challenge to persevere, however long it takes. We live in a world of instant gratification. Culture shifts, however, take time. — Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Gal. 6:9)

Culture Shift Based on God’s Commands

For our churches to get to the point where everybody does their parts will take a culture shift — an ongoing change in the way we think and feel about serving along with actions toward it. Part of the shift involves understanding why it is so important.

Important Because Serving One Another is Based on God

  • based on God’s knowledge of how we can best function as a church, to be healthy and to grow (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12)
  • based on God’s heart for us to demonstrate love for Him and others through serving them (Matt. 22:37-40; Gal. 5:13)
  • based on God’s will for us to administer His love and grace to one another (1 Pet. 4:8-11)

Culture Shift Based on God’s Commands About Serving

Culture Shift to Follow God's Design Needs to be Based on God's CommandsAccording to God, doing our part isn’t optional. Here are just a couple commands God gives in His Word about serving:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Gal. 5:13)

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Pet. 4:10)

We must take people beyond a request from ministry leaders to do their part. While the vision for this culture shift from church leaders may initially seem to get people moving, it’s insufficient to keep them going. They need to realize that this expectation comes from a higher authority to whom we’re all accountable — the Lord of lords and King of kings, the Almighty Sovereign God.

Perhaps the starting point may be to help people gain a better grasp of who God is so they understand not only His sovereignty to command us to function a certain way but also His grace and love upon which He exercises His rights. Because God knows best and has our good in His heart, it only makes sense that we follow His commands.